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While using Unity I export an Android game as an APK. When the APK is run, the first thing that is displayed is the Unity splash screen. I worked out that I could replaced that image by opening the APK like a zip file, looking for the splash screen image (App.apk/assests/bin/Data/splash.png) and replacing it with any image I wanted.

Is it legal to publish Unity-powered Android game apps with modified splash screens like this? I remember that some games on PS3, 360 and Wii have been created with Unity but don't display a Unity splash screen when run on their respective consoles.

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You'd need to consult the Unity license for the answer; I doubt it's permissible, and the cases you're thinking of probably either got a special exemption or were allowed to display the logo/attribution elsewhere. –  Josh Petrie Mar 18 '14 at 2:58
I see. That means, if I customized the Unity splashscreen, it will be against the copyright and thinking I'm the founder of Unity and used to make this game, right? –  David Dimalanta Mar 18 '14 at 3:02
It would be against the license agreement; it would not necessarily be a copyright violation. It depends on the terms of the license. –  Josh Petrie Mar 18 '14 at 3:14
The default splashscreen is only required for Unity Free. I am 100% certain those Unity console games were using Unity Pro, and the splashscreen isn't required on Unity Pro. Look at the license comparison here, and refer to 'Custom Splashscreen' –  jhocking Mar 18 '14 at 16:50

4 Answers 4

up vote 38 down vote accepted

There are several sections of the Unity End-User License Agreement (which is for version 4.x as I write this, although earlier versions are similar) that pertaining to this issue.

The most directly relevant is section 3, which reads (in part):

You will not delete or in any manner alter any Unity or third-party copyright, trademark or other proprietary rights notices or markings appearing on or in the Software (including the runtime portion thereof).

This is a pretty straightforward answer to your question: no, you are not permitted to remove the Unity splash screen from your Unity-based game.

There are other restrictions, such as section 2.f, which reads (in part):

General Restrictions. Except as expressly specified in this Agreement, you may not: (i) copy (except in the course of loading or installing) or modify or create derivative works of the Software;

and continues

Accordingly, you agree not to disassemble, decompile or reverse engineer the Software, in whole or in part, or permit or authorize a third party to do so, except to the extent such activities are expressly permitted by law notwithstanding this prohibition.

For the terms of the license, the term "Software" refers to "all 4.x versions and updates of all the Unity software products identified on Unity’s website." Further, the agreement is governed by the laws of Denmark, a fact which probably does not particularly apply to this question but is nonetheless worth noting.

Your technique for digging around in the final binaries of the game and gutting the default splash screen pretty clearly violates the above; your only recourse for splash screen modification is going to be whatever is built-in to the version of Unity you have. Your technique violates the license agreement.

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If I upgrade to Unity Pro via payment, then, I can customize the splash screen and it will show up instead of the default splash screen when running on device. So therefore, modifying APK is strictly prohibited and that's why it won't run. –  David Dimalanta Mar 18 '14 at 3:26
Yes, Unity Pro supports Custom Splashscreens –  jhocking Mar 18 '14 at 16:54
Does Unity Free check the hash of the image or something? –  JesseTG Mar 18 '14 at 20:11
I don't think so, I removed the Splash screen from a windows version in about 20 minutes. There is just a yes or no check because calling the splash screen function. Most programmers would never bother with a hash check on an image, because that could easily be subverted the way. –  Zv_oDD Mar 19 '14 at 4:45
it might not be hard to hack around the splash, but you will still violate the license for the free version of Unity, so if you dont like the splash, BUY the PRO license or find another gamedevelopment tool. its their way of getting a little payment back, as you advertise and tell the world that Unity3D is the thing to use for games. I feel sorry for people not recognizing how much free benefit you already got and now you start asking about how to remove the "ads"... shame on you for asking! –  BerggreenDK Aug 26 '14 at 17:29

Even though hacking the APK seems easy but it will definitely not run, the other option I believe is to upgrade to the Unity Pro version and I found on some research onto it.

See links:

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+1 for actually finding a way around the problem (answering the real need and not just the question "is it legal?") –  Pierre Arlaud Mar 18 '14 at 9:38

Due to the End-User License Agreement, the written authorization is required from Unity Technologies, but it is "possible" to change the Unity's native splash screen.

The way of doing it is to produce your "own version" of the Unity trademark and propose it directly to Unity for the specific IP you're developing. They will require that you own a legal Pro license first and might ask for some adjustments or changes.

An example of a trademark that could be accepted is if you implement the Unity trademark into the main menu (with enough visibility) instead of the native splash screen.

It's not possible to not show the Unity trademark anywhere as you don't own the software, but a license (or more) which include the agreement to let you USE the software for commercial uses.

If they accept, they will send you an official written permission.

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interesting, got any examples on this? –  BerggreenDK Aug 26 '14 at 17:30

As to what you can legally do, the law looks at the terms of the license or the contract to which you have signed. The signing of publishing rights belong to the copyright holder(s). In the case of Unity 3D the run-time license remains the property of Unity 3D and does not transfer to the publisher or end-user.

Instead the publisher is using a piece of code that is still expressly licensed by Unity 3D for the purpose of running your published works. However, there is a problem with this model. If you bought a car and it had a term of condition that you could not modify the way it looks, or some advertising, then you would expect that you do not actually own the right of the transfer of that property aesthetically.

However, this is kind of the same thing when you buy a motor vehicle. The problem is that although the physicality of the situation stipulated you own the vehicle, you in fact do not have the right to claim you own the intellectual property of the design of the motor vehicle. You do however have the right to modify how your vehicle looks. We all be up in arms if there was a law that said, part of your motor vehicle's pricing model is based around the badges the manufacturer puts on the car. You cannot deface the badges on your car? Anyway, I for one fully acknowledge that there should be a credit in there, but not in the first scene of the application. Here is my argument why.

The market gets pretty saturated with crap apps. Or, crApps for short. The problem is with so many crApps that display the Unity Logo in the first couple of seconds of opening, give your application an automatic disadvantage due to prenotions of absolute low budget fruitfulness. A shitfest of waded bloated unoptimized crappy bogware that all bare the same opening logo.

Here is a better idea, choose a point where the credit / badge is shown. Maybe select on Application exit, or a point within the application life-cycle using a smaller placement or simply elect to remove the logo in return for real metrics. If the application calls to the mothership to let it know that the it is has been run, then they can start just focusing on collecting revenues based on the term of the license, rather than any potential advertising returns.... I don't know, maybe they do that already?

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-1 is about collecting real answers to real questions. This sort of amateur speculation isn't helpful, particularly on matters of law. –  Trevor Powell Jul 29 at 9:38
Josh's earlier answer references the Unity EULA which seems to make it quite clear that your suggestion isn't legally defensible. (It might suck that that's the way it is, but that's not really an answer to this question.) –  Anko Jul 29 at 11:26
@StuartWilson (welcome to GameDev). Try to refrain from making opinionated statements in your answers or using foul language on the site. Certainly, you should not be promoting illegal actions. All of these things are apt to get you downvoted and you will need votes to gain access to more features on here :) This question and the other answers are also over a year old. While it's fine to add new answers to old questions if you feel you have something valuable/more up-to-date to add, try to avoid unnecessary grave digging. –  Fuzzy Logic Jul 29 at 13:21
All three commentators have a point. Even though Stuart has good reflection of this answer but little sarcastic. Yeah, game developers, including myself, wants a good splash screen acknowledge to this brand and the game itself. Since Unity created for a free version should possibly acknowledge as credits/splash screen. Just what Stuart stated. –  David Dimalanta Jul 30 at 6:01

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